As reported by Fox News, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) exchanged text messages with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch who offered him access to Christopher Steele.
Steele is the former British spy who compiled a dossier of lies about Donald Trump.
Warner, as top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been leading an investigation into President Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia.
On March 22nd of last year, he sent the following text message to lobbyist Adam Waldman:
“We have so much to discuss u need to be careful but we can help our country.”
On March 29th, Waldman told Warner that Steele wanted a bipartisan letter from the Senate Intelligence Committee inviting him to speak with the panel. It remains unclear whether Waldman was working for Steele or simply helping him out as a friend.
In one of his messages, Warner suggested he did not want any other lawmakers included in his discussions with Waldman or Steele. In another, he told the lobbyist he would “rather not have a paper trial” of their conversations.
Warner made it clear that he wanted to speak with Steele directly, without anyone else involved. But Steele, who had cold feet thanks to the international attention he was getting, insisted on starting the process with a bipartisan letter inviting him to speak with the Intelligence Committee. Warner never succeeded in meeting with Steele.
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), who works alongside Warner as head of the Intelligence Committee, was supposedly unconcerned by Warner’s use of a “back channel” to facilitate a meeting with Steele.
Warner’s text messages were revealed to the rest of the committee in October. The texts were leaked to the press in February days after they were revealed to members of the House Intelligence Committee.
Following an explosive report by Fox News, Warner and Burr released a joint statement insisting the texts did not impact the committee’s Russia investigation:
“From the beginning of our investigation we have taken each step in a bipartisan way, and we intend to continue to do so…Leaks of incomplete information out of context by anyone, inside or outside our committee, are unacceptable.”
Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) confirmed the committee had reviewed Warner’s text messages in October and that the content of the messages “has had zero impact on our work.”
Adam Waldman, whose firm has ties to Hillary Clinton, is best known for lobbying the US government on behalf of controversial Russian billionaire Oleg V. Deripaska in 2009 and 2010.
Deripraska is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin whose visa was revoked in 2006 over concerns about connections to Russian organized crime.
Deripraska is also believed to have information about Paul Manafort, whom he sued in January over a failed business deal.
Paul Manafort, who worked briefly as Trump’s campaign chairman in 2016, is currently on trial over claims that he defrauded Federal Savings Bank for $16 million.
Editor’s note: Looks very comfortable right? Do we have Russians participating in Congress’s investigation?